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Schism

By Matt Ward

Modern-day Christianity seems to be approaching a point of no return. There appears to be a concerted effort, long since underway but now rapidly speeding up, which has the very specific aim of delegitimizing biblical Christianity. Much of these efforts are coming from within the church. Men and women we once perceived as being Christian brothers and sisters, now seem to view themselves as traditional Christianity’s greatest enemy. Evangelical Christianity, as we have known it, would seem to be on the brink of schism.

If you are an Evangelical Christian who holds a literal view of the interpretation of scripture, and especially if you hold to a futurist, pre-tribulation view of eschatology, then you find yourself dead center in the crosshairs of a movement that is becoming increasingly vitriolic. You are also very much in the minority. The acrimony, the bitter and caustic attacks, are not even hidden or shrouded anymore; they are out in the open for all to see.

These are, I know, harsh words. Yet I have stood back and watched patiently over the last two years; and what I have seen has with equal measure surprised and shocked me. I waited and waited before writing this article, as I wanted to be absolutely sure that what I was witnessing was not just a momentary spasm of anger or frustration. I wanted to be sure that what was emerging was a new fixed pattern of behavior.

It all seemed to begin, or at least enter a new and more hostile phase, immediately following the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. It was immediately after Trump’s election that the overt fracture lines that already existed within evangelical Christianity were quickly opening up into yawning chasms.

I believe that the election of Trump to the Presidency of the United States acted as the catalyst for these fractures to become what we may one day recognize as the beginning point of a full schism in the Body of Christ.

After the election, it seemed that all the tethers of decency and brotherly communion were pulled down; and open warfare, at least from one side, has ensued ever since.

Think that I am over-reacting or misjudging this situation? After the election I spent quite a lot of time looking at, in detail, the public responses to Trump’s election victory by Christian leaders in America. The results shocked me.

No momentary spasm of anger or frustration, the reaction that manifested itself post-election has sustained itself. It has now become an entrenched pattern of behavior and seems to have morphed into open season on evangelical, futurist, biblical Christianity.

What makes this shocking is that the most vociferous attacks are not coming from the rank and file of Christianity, but from those esteemed as “leaders,” men and women who hold sway over, in some cases, millions of people.

First amongst them, and what initially grabbed my attention, was an article I came across in the immediate wake of Trump’s victory. The article was written by a very prominent church leader, who has a following on Twitter of close to one hundred thousand people, which was entitled, “…did US evangelical leaders exult Donald Trump over Jesus?”

In the article, the author went on to explain how he wished to speak out against Christian leaders in the United States whom he claims have, in electing Donald Trump, effectively chosen to exalt a man over Jesus Christ. He is effectively arguing that, in voting for Trump, evangelical Christians have sinned – that they have, in effect, committed idolatry.

Harsh words, but the author wasn’t finished. He continued by denouncing modern Christian evangelicalism itself, arguing that in his opinion the election of Donald Trump means that “many Christians in the United States are now spiritually homeless.”

Continuing, he therefore called upon Christians in the United States to abandon the term “evangelicalism” and instead reclaim their true identity as “a follower of Jesus,” stating that many Christians now need a new spiritual home as a consequence of Donald Trump’s election.

Evangelicalism, it would seem, just doesn’t cut it anymore; it is flawed, compromised and broken. He bemoaned the fact that in his view so many white Christians in America voted for a president that he believes rejects “many of the core values of evangelicalism.”

He then concluded by explaining how the term “evangelical” has now become “toxic,” concluding that “many are now done with the word ‘evangelicalism’, which has come to represent white self-interest.”

Wow. Harsh words. But it didn’t end there. It seemed like, across the board, from one prominent Christian leader to another, there was a tidal wave of incendiary reaction. It soon became equally clear that these views were not held in isolation, but were widely echoed within the more mainstream Christian community itself, by many of the rank and file.

At the time of the election, one of the best platforms for viewing this attitude shift within the American church was Twitter. It was and is an ideal way of catching a real glimpse into people’s minds. In one statement, often written instinctively and as a reaction to an event or a rapid-fire judgement, volumes can be revealed about the true intent of the heart.

The election of Trump provoked an avalanche of responses from very prominent church leaders all across America. Whilst I have redacted the names of the individuals below, each is a prominent church leader in America. Collectively, they influence the thought processes of millions of followers, in their pews, through television outreach and through their social media platforms.

On 09/11/16, one very influential pastor tweeted, “In #Election2016 Evangelicals lost credibility voting for Trump…”

Another highly prominent and influential church leader, and founder of various Christian magazine publications, spent considerable time and effort tweeting links to articles with titles such as, “10 commitments to resistance in the Trump era” and, “what progressive Christians need to do to take their faith back.”

This same man then tweeted the following: “Time for healing. And resistance,” before concluding with the following piece of advice: “the religious right leaders showed once and for all that they should never be taken as ‘religious’ again.”

Let me repeat what this church leader wrote, so that it sinks in: “the religious right leaders showed once and for all that they should never be taken as ‘religious’ again.”

Remember, the men that write these words are esteemed as the leaders of Christianity today, and some have followings of literally hundreds of thousands, even millions worldwide. These aren’t the random tweets from lone individuals with a handful of followers; these individuals have huge influence over vast numbers of people.

Another prominent religious leader, at the same time, tweeted, “We have never witnessed such religious hypocrisy as we saw in this election.” He then added, “Most white evangelicals sold their souls to a man who embodies the worship of money… and power.”

Most white evangelicals sold their souls to a man who embodies the worship of money… and power. These are not the words of a man trying to find any kind of common ground. These are the words of war.

This leader then concluded that, “I just want you to know that I AM IN for whatever this will require of us.”

Yet another man esteemed as a pillar of the modern church worldwide, around the time of Trump’s election victory, retweeted an article which detailed “…what progressive Christians need to do to take back their faith.”

Take back their faith? Clearly the insinuation is that “the faith” has been hijacked and now needs to be forcefully retaken. Is the silent, unstated implication of this that those from whom it needs to be “taken back” are not brothers and sisters in the faith, but enemies and usurpers? Otherwise, why would it need to be “taken back” from them?

He then continued by linking an article from a former evangelical titled, “I was an evangelical magazine editor. But now I can’t defend my evangelicalism.” He concluded, “… at some point you have to get up and leave the table.”

This man, this hugely influential church leader with a worldwide following, then wrote that “Every single principled conservative should be speaking out against this decision (the election of President Trump). Every single one. There is no middle ground here.”

There is no middle ground here.” We are being told openly by one of the most prominent Church leaders in America today that you are effectively for us, or you are against us. You are either a Bible- believing evangelical, who by implication has “sold their souls” to this man Trump, or you are a real Christian, now in need of a new home away from the “toxic” legacy of traditional evangelicalism.

Now, almost two years later, and after the dust should have settled, the attacks remain but have morphed somewhat. They have become subtler, but no less dangerous for it. The attacks we see today are not merely aimed at evangelicalism generally, but are at specific evangelical doctrine.

The attacks have morphed from opposition to Trump and those who voted for him, to opposition of evangelical belief and doctrine itself. These attacks now also include highly personal attacks on prominent evangelical leaders such as, for example, Franklin Graham, who was recently described as “unhinged” by a hugely popular emergent church leader for his promotion of traditional biblical values.

Equally, men like Robert Jeffress, who is a bold proponent of both Israel and solid biblical truths and realities, has been castigated far and wide within the Christian community recently as being a “bigot.” All for quoting and relying upon the bible as the basis for the moral judgements he makes. Is that not what all of us “Christians” are supposed to do? Rely upon the Bible? Or have I missed something?

This attempt to discredit evangelical beliefs is obviously ongoing, but now the pillars that hold it up, both people as well as biblical doctrine, are under attack.

To illustrate this point, consider this tweet that I stumbled across last Sunday from another very prominent American Church leader, a man also with a vast social media presence. He was responding to a question, and I quote the tweet exactly:

“…I am a recovering lifelong Futurist (grew up in the Bible Belt), so I am still learning about this stuff. So do you still affirm a future (to us) coming of Jesus? Or do you think that was fulfilled in 70AD?”

This young, well-known Christian leader who, remember, boasts a huge following, replied,

“Def a future return of Jesus to judge, purge, renew and resurrect (1 Cor 15; Rom 8:18-28, Rev 21-22) …But no 7-year tribulation, rapture or destruction of the planet. This world will be restored for a restored humanity!”

I was speechless. On so many levels, this is plain wrong; it is false teaching—not least of which, apart from the poor theology, is the sheer audacity of it. Notwithstanding his completely selective use of scripture, ignoring totally the plethora of places in the Bible that clearly signpost a future rapture of believers, a tribulation and a judgment, he chooses instead to focus exclusively upon those scriptural verses that only agree with his sensibilities – ignoring or marginalizing all the others that don’t, and leading people astray in the act.

The aim at this point is to redraw the boundary lines of Christianity itself piece by piece, doctrine by doctrine. Thus we reach a point where Christian leaders are openly discussing how they can “redefine Christianity” for today’s widely biblically illiterate, church-going generation. Evidently the way it has been “defined” for the last two thousand years of church history just doesn’t quite cut the mustard anymore.

Treating the Bible like a great theological buffet, taking the parts they like and ignoring everything else, these men and women are attempting to redraw the boundaries that have held the faith together since Jesus Christ walked the shores of Galilee two thousand years ago.

The pertinent issues now are not salvation issues, or issues related to sin or repentance, and certainly not anything to do with eschatology or the imminent end times, but LGBTQ+ issues, immigration issues and family border-separation issues. It is about the “evils” of white-dominated evangelical Protestantism; it is about helping the poor. It is about social justice, the feel-good gospel of salvation through works, not faith. These are the issues that count – not sin, repentance, the love of God for a desperately lost world, or the quite obviously approaching time of His wrath.

Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency of the United States has acted as the catalyst for real and rapid change. Political affiliation is now being intrinsically linked to one’s religious persuasion, and an attack on one has become a de-facto attack on the other.

There is a highly polarized political environment currently in America which has permeated deep into the Church. Indeed, it threatens to tear it apart. Partisan political affiliations now rule and have become the launching pad for quite brutal attacks upon the faith system many still hold so dear. And upon basic biblical doctrine.

The battle lines seem to have been drawn, and we are increasingly witness to brothers and sisters using the election of Trump to continue the effort to castigate others within the fold of the church, and to characterize their faith as being racist, xenophobic, uncompassionate and un-American. Worse, they are even now considered as being un-Christian.

It would seem increasingly the case that whom you voted for has come to determine the type, and quality, of Christian you are. And these attacks will only become more vitriolic with the passage of time.

It is my belief that the Christian Church faces a growing and menacing threat both from without and from within. The period of unity that we have known for so long would seem, to me at least, to be fast approaching its end. Whether the election of Trump created the chasm or merely revealed it is irrelevant. What matters is that this divide, this schism, is there and it seems to be growing wider and more pronounced daily.

The apostasy and “falling away” prophesied by Paul as a distinct characteristic of the last days is in full flow right now, and it has penetrated deeply into the church. If Jesus tarries much longer, and He may well, persecution cannot be far around the corner.

In the early chapters of Revelation, Jesus gives a very specific warning to the churches of Asia: that unless they focus upon God and what He is and requires of them, then He would remove His Spirit from the church.

With the exception of His remnant and one or two outstanding examples of churches and pastors that do teach faithfully the whole council of God, including Bible prophecy and the evident signs of the times, it seems to me that what is described in the first few chapters of Revelation is exactly what is happening to the modern church today.

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Israel’s Darkening Horizon

By Matt Ward

Relations between Israel and Russia are on a knife edge. Events in the Middle East are moving at a very fast pace. With the downing of a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane on September 17th, it would seem that Russia, sensing an opportunity, is trying to both reset relations with Israel as well as redraw the operational limits of their own involvement in Syria and the Middle Eastern theatre. They are doing this whilst at the same time drastically curtailing Israel’s ability to act against her ever-more-entrenched regional enemies in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

Events began on September 17th with an Israeli Defense Force attack on a Syrian military facility located in Latakia. It was believed by Israel to be housing a lethal, high precision weapons systems bound for use by Hezbollah in Lebanon, something that has always been a very clear red line for the Jewish State.

After the successful airstrikes, the Israeli F-16 warplanes were engaged by Syrian air defenses. As a direct consequence of Syria’s wide-ranging and highly imprecise anti-air fire, a Russian IL-20 military plane with 15 Russian servicemen on board was shot down over the Mediterranean. All Russian servicemen died. This has created a firestorm for Israel, one which has the potential to severely impede her operational capabilities, not only in Syria but also in her ability to successfully defend her own homeland.

Immediately following the downing of the Russian IL-20 plane, Israel dispatched senior IDF commanders to Russia with the aim of clarifying that the responsibility for this unforeseen tragedy lay squarely at the door of the Syrian government. To that end, Major General Amikam Nurkin travelled to Moscow to brief senior Russia officers personally, presenting them with the data and findings from the IDF’s own investigation.

To be blunt, the IDF’s conclusions were rebuffed. That is an understatement. After concluding its own investigation, the Russian military came to the conclusion that it was in fact Israel that was solely to blame for the downing of the Russian IL-20, not Syria, and that Israel was exclusively to blame for the loss of the 15 Russian servicemen.

This accusation has rocked the IDF, and the shock felt within the Israeli military has been exacerbated by the increasingly bellicose accusations and charges laid against the IDF from the Russian military and its Defense Ministry.

On Sunday, 23rd September, the Russian Defense Ministry publically gave its own account of what happened on September 17th. The Russian Defence Ministry lays the entire blame for the incident squarely with the IDF. Worse still, Russian Major General Igor Konashenkov has openly claimed that the IDF has actively misled Russia about the location of its planned airstrikes in Syria, and that because of this the Russian IL-20 was prevented from being moved to a safe zone. Russia is declaring this as a direct breach of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements made to try to prevent clashes in Syria between Russian armed forces and Israel’s.

But Major General Igor Konashenkov wasn’t finished there. He went further. General Konashenkov continued by asserting that Israeli F-16 fighter jets had used the IL-20 as a “shield” against Syrian air defense systems, thereby purposely endangering the aircraft and all the Russian personnel on board. In so declaring, he has directly contradicted the IDF’s claim that the Israeli F-16’s were already home in Israeli airspace when the IL-20 was hit and shot down. He is publically asserting that Israel lied to them.

The Russian briefing concluded ominously by claiming that Israeli military personnel have acted with “criminal negligence,” and that they are exclusively to blame for the loss of Russian life.

The Russians, as a consequence, have now declared electronic war on Israel over the skies of both Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean. In quick time, the Russian military has armed Syria with the S-300 air defense system and will also immediately start jamming all “enemy” navigation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Syrian electronic air defense capabilities will now be increased to the same levels as the Russian forces currently operating within Syria.

Shoigu continued, “Russia will jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communications systems of combat aircraft which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria.”

Shoigu then concluded with a thinly veiled threat to Israel, stating that if these new measures “fail to cool hotheads, we will have to respond in line with the current situation.”

This is certainly a huge blow to Israel and will severely impede Israel’s ability to act within the Syrian theatre. The temperature in the Middle East has just shot up a number of notches. This is the first time in history that one nation has openly declared electronic warfare against another nation-state.

To this end, the first deliveries of Russian Krasukha-4 electronic warfare units have now been delivered to Syria. As well as neutralizing ground and airborne radars, these units can also jam and severely disrupt spy satellites. This system can jam all forms of communications systems, disable guided missiles, aircraft and radars, and be used as a platform to attack enemy electronic warfare capable units. These combined Russian measures will have the result of significantly hampering Israel’s ability to operate successfully within Syria, or even to monitor at least to the same degree, what is actually going on there “on the ground.”

Netanyahu has declared that, irrelevant of these new measures, Israel will continue to take the action necessary to prevent the embedding of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. Such grand statements are meaningless though as even Netanyahu himself, speaking on the sidelines of the recent UN summit, openly acknowledged that this “accident with the IL-20 may have serious consequences” – many of which may be as yet unforeseen. Netanyahu’s comments are an explicit acknowledgement that the dynamic in Syria may have changed significantly.

The delivery of these new S-300 missiles, whilst not the most cutting edge weaponry available, will certainly complicate Israel’s ability to act unimpeded in Syria. As Israeli journalist Barak Ravid observed, the move “could limit the Israeli air force’s freedom of operation in Syria.” (1).

The delivery of these missiles and Russia’s declaration that they will interfere electronically with Israeli electronic warfare capabilities matter. They matter because, short of the obvious military impediment Israel now faces, the move also threatens to unravel a military and political alliance between Israel and Russia that has thus far kept them, and more importantly the other major world powers, backing up both sides from coming into direct conflict in Syria.

Israel will now have to be exceptionally careful and will need to calculate each and every potential intervention against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria in a way it has not had to before. Given that Israel has already conducted hundreds of operations in Syria and will likely continue to do so in the future, the likelihood of an Israeli jet being shot down by enhanced Syrian air defense systems has now significantly risen. If such an eventuality does arise and Israeli planes are shot down, or pilots injured or captured, then the likelihood that this may in turn provoke a wider regional flare-up increases dramatically. Israel, Iran, Syria, Russia and the United States could all be dragged into open and direct confrontation.

The bottom line for how this crisis concludes rests with Putin, although at this stage it appears that the outcome will be a severe restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria. Amongst all the uncertainty though, one thing does however remain unchanged; Iran is still, without question, absolutely determined to continue transferring arms to Hezbollah.

The real test will be when Israeli intelligence, at some point in the near future, suggests that Iran is once again attempting to smuggle sophisticated arms and weaponry into Lebanon. What happens then, when Israel feels absolutely obliged to act? Will they? And if they do, what will Russia do? And will this be containable?

Only time will tell.

Turning Biblical

by Daymond Duck

Several weeks ago, I read an article by a Jewish rabbi who said the events in the Middle East are turning Biblical.

I agree with him, but would say that it is a global issue, not just a Middle East issue.

First, based on Psa. 83 and Ezek. 38, many prophecy teachers believe Israel will get into a war with her neighbors in the latter days and latter years.

Pres. Trump has stopped giving millions of dollars to the PA, their economy is near collapse and demonstrators are becoming more aggressive, violent and dangerous.

On Oct. 4, 2018, Israel moved more Iron Dome systems and troops to the border and placed those troops on maximum readiness for all developments.

On Oct. 7, 2018, Israeli Prime Min. Netanyahu sent out a warning that Israel will not hesitate to launch a full-scale invasion of Gaza if the situation keeps growing worse.

Second, based on statements by Jesus, many prophecy teachers expect an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters at the end of the age.

On Sept. 28, 2018, a 7.5 earthquake and a tsunami with 20-foot waves struck a city called Palu on one of the islands of Indonesia; and on Oct. 3, 2018, a volcano erupted on that same island.

So that one island was struck by a 7.5 earthquake, a tsunami with 20-foot waves moving at 500 mph and the eruption of a volcano in one week.

On Oct. 8, the death toll was approaching 2,000 people, and approximately 5,000 people were still missing; houses, businesses, ships and boats were destroyed along several miles of coastline.

Third, based on statements by Jesus and by John in the book of Revelation, many prophecy teachers believe pestilence is a Tribulation-Period sign.

In late Sept. 2018, the east coast of the U.S. was struck by Hurricane Florence that killed several people, flooded large parts of the Carolinas and damaged many homes and businesses.

On Oct. 3, 2018, it was reported that people that have suffered from all of these things are now being attacked by mega mosquitoes 20 times larger than normal.

Fourth, based on prophecies in the books of Daniel and Revelation, many prophecy teachers believe there will be a world government during the Tribulation Period.

For many years, prophecy teachers have warned that globalists want to surrender the sovereignty of the U.S. to a world government, and they have been accused of promoting a conspiracy theory.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Pres. Trump stood before the UN (seat of the wannabe world government) and said, “We will never surrender American sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans.”

He said, “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.”

He also said, “America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination.”

The coming world government is a Bible truth, not a conspiracy theory.

Fifth, regardless of what Pres. Trump said, on Sept. 30, 2018, he got an agreement to replace NAFTA with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

It has been reported that most of the people that negotiated the USMCA are career diplomats and known globalists from the Obama Administration, and most of the language in the USMCA was copied from the TPP, a globalist trade agreement that was written to cause nations to surrender their sovereignty.

 

I encourage people to pray that the U.S. Senate will refuse to pass this if it surrenders U.S. sovereignty and that God will guide Pres. Trump to do His will.

I also encourage people to pray about the upcoming election and that the U.S. will abandon the two-state solution in Israel.

We should also thank God that the attempt by the globalist George Soros to buy a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court by hiring mobs of protestors failed.

Sixth, the Bible teaches that Gentiles from all nations will visit Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium.

On Sept. 27, 2018, 7,000 Christians from the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Asia and other places marched through the streets of Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

 Seventh, according to the Bible, the area where the Dead Sea is located was a well-watered valley before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Lot, but the fire and brimstone that fell on that area turned it into a wasteland (Gen. 13:10; 19:24-28).

Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that there will be fish in the Dead Sea at the end of the age (Ezek. 47:10).

On Oct. 4, 2018, it was reported that the water level in the Dead Sea is unusually low and sink holes are being exposed that are being filled by underground fresh water; and scientists are discovering fish and vegetation in some of them.

Some believe that a future system could be developed to send desalinated water into streams that could reach the Dead Sea and cause the fish to thrive even more.

Israel has already appropriated the money to build two more desalination plants.

Eighth, the Bible teaches that God will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel, and what people do to Israel when the Tribulation Period is near will come back on them (Gen. 12:3; Obad. 1:15).

During the Obama Administration, two leaders in the Democrat Party, Pres. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, used taxpayer money in an effort to prevent the election of Israeli Prime Min. Netanyahu.

But Mr. Netanyahu was elected, and the Democrat Party has now lost control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, Pres. Trump has given Mr. Netanyahu and Israel incredibly strong support; and despite unprecedented opposition, he keeps winning.

But people need to pray for America, because the chair of the Democratic National Committee is seeking revenge and calling upon people to make the Republicans “pay a price” (a house divided against itself cannot stand; Matt. 12:25).

Ninth, the Bible says no weapon formed against Israel will prosper (Isa. 54:17).

On Sept. 17, 2018, Syria mistakenly shot down a Russian plane and killed 15 Russian soldiers.

Russia blamed Israel and used the incident as an excuse to build up her missile defense and satellite communications systems in Syria.

Some believe this Russian military upgrade threatens Israel’s ability to defend herself.

On Oct. 5, 2018, it was reported that Pres. Trump has ordered the U.S. military to immediately transfer some of America’s F-35 stealth planes to Israel’s military.

These planes may not be impacted by Russia’s new weapons.

Tenth, a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof is a sign of the last days (II Tim. 3:1-5).

A group of sanctimonious U.S. Senators (people that should be examples of honesty and moral integrity) lying and blinding themselves to the facts so a woman can abort her baby (a sin as bad or worse than sexual misconduct, drinking too much alcohol or throwing a piece of ice) and denying what the Word of God teaches – if that isn’t a form of godliness, I don’t know what a form of godliness is.

Those pious hypocrites demonstrated that people can sin without guilt and shame.

There are many reasons to believe that current events in this world and especially the Middle East are turning Biblical.

Why Are Palestinian Refugees Different From All Other Refugees?

BY DAVID HARRIS/ALGEMEINER.COM

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Why indeed?
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News reports suggest that the US administration is considering a historic decision to redefine who is and is not a Palestinian “refugee.” I hope that the reports are true. A change is long overdue, and could actually help the search for peace.
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Tragically, there have been countless refugees in the annals of history.
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In the 20th century alone, tens of millions of refugees, if not more, were compelled to find new homes — victims of world wars, border adjustments, population transfers, political demagoguery, and social pathologies.
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The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne codified the population exchange of Greeks and Turks, totaling more than 1.5 million people.
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Huge numbers of Hindus and Muslims moved because of the partition of the sub-continent into two independent nations — India and Pakistan.
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Refugees by the millions, unable to return to their countries, were created as a result of the 12-year Third Reich.
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The exodus from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam after the victory of communist and rebel forces was massive.
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Refugee flows from Africa’s civil and tribal wars have been constant.
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Yemenis were kicked out of Saudi Arabia by the hundreds of thousands during the first Gulf War, due to Yemen’s support for Iraq.
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Countless Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims fled, or were expelled, due to Serbian aggression.
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And this is all just the tip of the refugee iceberg.
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In fact, I don’t have to look far to understand the unending refugee crises of our times — or the trauma they have created. My mother, father, and wife were all refugees. Yet, instead of wallowing in victimization or becoming consumed by hatred and revenge, they started anew, grateful to their adopted lands for making it possible.
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This past May, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counted 19.9 million refugees in its jurisdiction, with the largest populations being from Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over five decades, the UNHCR estimates that it has assisted 50 million refugees “help restart their lives.”
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And yet, of all the world’s refugees, one group — the Palestinians — are treated entirely differently.
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Indeed, the 1951 Refugee Convention explicitly does not apply to Palestinians, who fall within the purview of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
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There is no equivalent UN body for anyone else in the world.
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The definition of a refugee under the UNRWA mandate is also unique. It covers all descendants, without limit, of those deemed refugees in 1948. This helps explain why its caseload has quintupled since 1950.
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Unlike the UNHCR, UNRWA does not seek to resettle Palestinian refugees, but rather provides social services, and, in effect, keeping them in perpetual limbo.
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Despite the crocodile tears shed by Arab countries about the plight of their Palestinian brethren, they have been among the most miserly donors to UNRWA. They assert that it is not their responsibility to care for refugees created by the decisions of others. The top five donors to UNRWA until now have been the US. and European governments.
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By the way, I should hasten to clarify that only those Palestinians seen as victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict are given this special treatment.
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During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Kuwait evicted 400,000 Palestinians for their alleged backing of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, there wasn’t much reaction from the international community. And more recently, while thousands of Palestinians have been dislocated by the Syrian civil war, again there has been silence. Arab violations of Arabs’ human rights are seemingly viewed differently, if they’re noticed at all.
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And in Lebanon, with its large Palestinian population under UNRWA auspices, the government has long imposed strict restrictions on Palestinians’ right to work in numerous fields. Where is the outcry?
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So, we are confronted by something unprecedented.
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Palestinians are not the world’s first refugee population, but their leadership may be the first to resist a workable, long-term solution.
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Think about it. In 1947, the UN offered a two-state plan to address competing national claims. The Jews accepted it; the Arabs rejected it. Or in UN-speak, the “proposed Arab State failed to materialize.” Had it been otherwise, two states could have emerged, and with any luck, learned to co-exist. Apropos, to this day, that two-state concept remains the most feasible outcome.

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Instead, the Arab side went to war. Has there been any war without refugees? Yet, in a case of reverse causality, Israel is blamed for the refugees resulting from hostilities triggered by five Arab countries.
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Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli conflict produced even more Jewish refugees from the Arab world (and Iran). They, however, resettled elsewhere with little fanfare and no attention whatsoever from the UN.
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Then, by design, the Palestinian refugees, and their descendants ad infinitum, were kept in UNRWA camps to serve as permanent reminders of the impermanence of their situation. Taught to focus their hatred on Israel, and to believe they will one day “return,” they’ve been denied chances for new lives. And they’ve been used to create the single biggest stumbling block to achieving peace: the Palestinian fantasy of ending Jewish sovereignty in Israel.
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Even now, 13 years after Israel totally withdrew from Gaza, astonishingly, over 500,000 Palestinians continue to live in UNRWA camps there. Why? Because Gaza is under Palestinian rule, not Israeli.
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While the Palestinians are among the world’s largest per capita aid recipients, much of that assistance has been siphoned off to line the pockets of Palestinian officials, who then turn around and seek more funds for their allegedly neglected people.
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It’s the same absurd logic that Hamas deploys when it decries energy shortages, while trying to shell the Israeli power plants that provide electricity to Gaza.
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The whole process is abetted by an elaborate, well-funded UN apparatus, encompassing more than just UNRWA, created by a majority of member states to support the Palestinians. By contrast, among others, Kurds, who have a compelling case for statehood, and Cypriots, who have lived on a divided island due to Turkish occupation, have no comparable UN bodies to advance their causes.
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This is not to say that Palestinians have had easy lives. They haven’t. It is to say that their leaders, with the complicity of too many, have pulled off one of the most successful spin jobs in history. Rather than resettle the refugees, they have shamelessly exploited them and their descendants.
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Therein lies the irreducible tragedy — and the heart — of a decades-long conflict.

 

Palestinian Leadership To USA – We Despise You, Now Give Us Our Money

BY BASSAM TAWIL/GATESTONE INSTITUTE

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The question of Palestinian responsiveness is once again on display as Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah step up their verbal attacks on the US administration after its decision to cut $200 million in American financial aid to the Palestinians.
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Abbas and the PA leadership are again behaving like spoiled, angry children whose candy has been taken away from them, hurling abuse at the Trump administration. Recall that earlier this year, Abbas called US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog.”
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For the past 9 months, the Palestinian leaders have been waging a massive and unprecedented campaign of incitement and abuse against Trump and his administration. This campaign began immediately after Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and the campaign is continuing to this day as a reply to the US decision to slash $200 million from the American financial aid to the Palestinians.
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Significantly, the PA and its leaders were the ones who initiated the crisis with the US administration. Their dissatisfaction with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem may be understandable, but they chose to take their protest to an extreme by boycotting the US administration and waging a smear campaign against Trump and his “Jewish advisors and envoys.”

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It is clear that the Palestinian boycott of the US administration did not include receiving funds from the Americans. One the one hand, the Palestinians have been boycotting and badmouthing US administration officials. On the other hand, Abbas and his representatives are now crying that the US administration is slashing $200 million of its financial aid to the Palestinians. If this isn’t cheek in its finest form, what is?
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The Arabic word for cheek, by the way, is wakaha. Were Abbas to behave in the same manner towards an Arab country for cutting financial aid to the Palestinians, he would have been accused by his Arab brothers of displaying wakaha at its best. Abbas, however, would think ten times before he uttered a bad word against any Arab country.
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The Palestinians are basically telling the Americans: We have the right to condemn you every day, to burn your flags and photos of your president, to incite against you, to launch weekly protests against you, to accuse you of being under the “influence of the Jewish and Zionist lobby” and, at the same time, we have the right to continue receiving US taxpayer money.
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Judging from their actions and assertions in the past few months, the Palestinians have turned the US into an enemy. They consider the US to be in “collusion” with the Israeli government and a “full partner in Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.” They say they no longer trust the US to play any role in a peace process with Israel because of the Trump administration’s “blind bias” in favor of Israel and its “hostile” policies towards the Palestinians.
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The Palestinians, of course, are entitled to voice their anger at the US. However, if they are so fed up with the US that they are even boycotting US administration officials, why are they demanding that the Americans continue to supply them with hundreds of millions of dollars each year? Where’s the vaunted Arab dignity, which requires an Arab not to humiliate himself in return for money, especially if it comes from someone you consider an enemy?
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The answer to this question can be found in a statement issued on August 25 by PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat in response to the US decision to cut the $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. “The international community is not doing the Palestinians a favor by providing them with financial aid,” Erekat argued. “This is a due duty of the international community, which bears responsibility for the continued Israeli occupation.”
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Erekat’s statement reflects a long-standing Palestinian position according to which the US and the rest of the international community owe the Palestinians money for supporting Israel’s existence. The Palestinian position stems from a belief that the international community, specifically the Americans and Europeans, were responsible for the establishment of Israel in 1948 at the cost of the Palestinians. This position was best echoed by Abbas himself, who has said that Israel is a “colonial project” imposed on the Palestinians by Western powers.
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This attitude means that the Palestinians have never seen the massive financial aid they have received from the West as a gift but rather as something that the world owes them for imposing a “colonial project” on them. The billions of dollars the Palestinians have received in the past few decades have evidently left no positive impression on the Palestinians, who feel that the funds are something they are fully entitled to because of the world’s support for the existence of Israel.
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The Palestinians, in other words, apparently do not feel they have to be grateful to those who have been funding them for decades. If the Europeans were to take a similar decision today and cut funding to the Palestinians, they too would be condemned by Abbas and his officials for being “hostile” towards the Palestinians and “biased” in favor of Israel.
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The ongoing Palestinian rhetorical attacks on the US administration are dangerous because they further radicalize the Palestinian public and turn the Americans into an enemy in the eyes of many Palestinians. In recent months, we have seen increased hostility towards American officials and citizens visiting the West Bank as a direct result of this incitement.
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Last July, the US Consul-General in Jerusalem was forced to cancel a visit to the Palestinian city of Nablus after Palestinians threatened to stage protests against him and his entourage.
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A month earlier, Palestinian protesters expelled a US consular delegation from the city of Bethlehem and threw tomatoes at their vehicles. No one was hurt, but the incident, which was documented on camera, was impolite and degrading for the Americans.
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The Palestinians are now accusing the US of attempting to “blackmail” them by cutting the funds. According to the Palestinians, the US administration wants to force them to accept Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
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It is worth noting, however, that the US administration has not yet presented its purported plan to the Palestinians or to any other party. So how can the US administration be trying to pressure or “blackmail” the Palestinians when no peace plan has ever been made public? Can the Palestinians point to one US administration official who asked them to accept the unseen plan or support Trump’s policies? Of course not.
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There is indeed blackmail going on — but in precisely the opposite direction. The Palestinians are trying to blackmail the US by claiming, absurdly, that the recent US decisions jeopardize the two-state solution and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
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These are the very Palestinians, however, who have refused to resume peace talks with Israel for the past four years, since long before Trump was elected as president.
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Common sense would have it that the US has a right to demand something from any party it helps to support — including the Palestinians. But the Palestinians see things differently. In their view, billions of dollars are owed to them as some sort of divine right. And if their behavior calls into question whether they deserve that money — well, those asking questions can just go back where they came from.

 

European Union Continues To Fiscally Back Hate Education Against Israel

BY MICHAEL CALVO / JNS.ORG

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In May 2018, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy published a report titled “The Money Trail: The Millions Given by EU Institutions to NGOs With Ties to Terror and Boycotts Against Israel, an In-Depth Analysis.”
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Two months later, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Frederica Mogherini, replied to the report. Her main arguments were that allegations of the European Union supporting incitement or terror were unfounded and unacceptable — and that terror and boycotts are two distinct phenomena.
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The Israeli Ministry’s report is clear and substantiated, and Mogherini should read it again.
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What is not mentioned in the report is that the European Union and its member states finance NGOs that harass Israel, Israeli officials, and corporations doing business in Israel and in Europe. The European Union still finances the Palestinian Authority (PA) — and the PA still encourages Palestinians to kill Jews.
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As the Taylor Force Act states, “The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.”
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It is well known that the Palestinian leaders have incited their people to kill Jews. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas even admitted that the terrorists “did what the Palestinian Authority ordered them to do,” and PA official Mohammed Dahlan confirmed that “Forty percent of the Martyrs in this Intifada belonged to the Palestinian security forces … and that the Palestinian Authority has hidden Hamas members against Israeli counter-actions.”
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Between 1994 and 2012, the European Union provided 5.6 billion euros to assist the PA. During 2014-15, a total of more than 390 million euros has been allocated to the PA through Pegase Direct Financial Support (DFS).
 

The aim of Pegase DFS is to assist the PA to meet its obligations towards its civil servants, pensioners, and vulnerable families; maintain essential public services; improve public finances; and pay teachers’ salaries. Among the civil servants and pensioners who received payments from Pegase DFS during 2014 and 2015, 67% were working in the health and education sectors.
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Palestinian children are taught to kill and hate Israelis in their public schools — so by supporting teachers’ salaries, the European Union financially participated and continues to participate in hate education, disregard for the lives of the Jews and others by promoting jihad, and inciting children to become martyrs.
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Concerning boycotts, the European Union has no qualms about applying double standards to Israel. It boycotts Israel’s “occupation,” but not other — real — occupations across the globe.
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In 2013, the European Union found it appropriate to ban grants, prizes, and financial instruments (such as loans and bank guarantees) to Israeli entities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. In September 2015, the European Union drafted various rules, arguing that consumers must know that some imported products come from the settlements and not from Israel.
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Under international law, the question of whether the West Bank territory is occupied remains far from settled. However, the European Union finds it legitimate to provide direct financial assistance to Turkish settlements in the occupied territory of Northern Cyprus.

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It funds the occupation of an EU member state (Cyprus) purportedly to “end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.” Concerning the Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara, European businesses and universities openly operate in these “occupied territories” without being barred from EU funding, while similarly situated Israeli entities are disbarred.
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China is not required to label products coming from Tibet, which it has occupied since 1951. Goods originating from “occupied territories” such as Northern Cyprus, Gibraltar, the Falklands, Western Sahara, Tibet, Kashmir, and the Russian-held regions of Azerbaijan are not specially labeled.
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The European Union does not treat Israel like it treats other countries. It applies double standards by requiring from Israel “a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” This represents antisemitism, according to the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, and the European Forum on Anti-Semitism.

 

Regional Players Maneuver To New Israeli-Palestinian Landscape

BY JAMES M. DORSEY/ALGEMENIER.COM

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A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war.
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It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of former Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan as successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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United Arab Emirates-backed Egyptian and UN efforts to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, with nemesis Qatar in the background, constitute yet another round in an Israeli-supported effort to politically, economically, and militarily weaken Hamas, and pave the way for the possible return of the Abu Dhabi-based Dahlan.
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Ironically, Israeli discussions with representatives of Qatar, which has long supported Hamas, constitute recognition of the utility of Qatar’s longstanding relations with Islamists and militants — relations that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain cited as the reason for their 15-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

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Israel and Egypt have agreed that Qatar will pay the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas government employees in Gaza. Abbas has refused to pay those salaries as part of an Israeli-UAE-Saudi-backed effort to undermine Hamas’ control of Gaza, and give the PA a key role in its administration. Moreover, in response to Abbas’ demand, Israel reduced electricity supplies, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power a day.
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Abbas’ economic warfare is the latest tightening of the noose in a more than decade-long Israeli-Egyptian effort to strangle Gaza economically. Included in the moves to negotiate a long-term Israeli-Hamas ceasefire are proposals for significant steps to ease the blockade of Gaza. Qatar has also been negotiating the return of two captive Israeli nationals, as well as the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
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In a statement on Facebook, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s goal is to “remove the Hamas terror group from power, or force it to change its approach, i.e., recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the principle of rebuilding in exchange for demilitarization.”
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Lieberman said he wants to achieve this by “creating conditions in which the average resident of Gaza will take steps to replace the Hamas regime with a more pragmatic government” rather than through military force.
 

In another irony, involving Qatar in efforts to prevent Gaza from escalating out of control gives it a foot in the door as the UAE seeks to put a Palestinian leader in place who is more attuned to the Emirati and Saudi willingness to accommodate the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to negotiate an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
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Speaking in a series of interviews, Qatari Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Muhammad Emadi insisted that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war.” He said that he has “discussed a maximum of a five- to 10-year ceasefire with Hamas.”
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Abbas, like Hamas, rejected US mediation following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.
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The US president startled Israelis and Palestinians by saying that Israel would pay a “higher price” for his recognition of Jerusalem and that Palestinians would “get something very good” in return “because it’s their turn next.” Trump gave no indication of what he meant by this.
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The effort to negotiate a lasting ceasefire is the latest round in a so far failed UAE-Egyptian effort to return Dahlan as part of a reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Dahlan frequently does UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s bidding. President George W. Bush reportedly described Dahlan during an internecine Palestinian power struggle in 2007 as “our boy.” Dahlan is also believed to have close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman.
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Since late March, Hamas has backed weekly mass protests by Gazans demanding the “right of return” to homes in Israel proper that they or their familial predecessors claim to have lost in the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the 1967 Middle East war. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said recently that “thanks to these marches and resistance” an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza is “around the corner.”
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Abbas may prove to be the loser as Israel and Hamas inch towards a ceasefire arrangement that could ultimately give Dahlan a role in administering the Gaza Strip.

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“Gaza has become a de facto state as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army, and conducts foreign policy,” said Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “So, in a way, countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel’s main interest is security — a period of complete calm in Gaza — and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this.”
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Eiland continued, “Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas reassume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [the Islamic State’s affiliate] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry. The only party that is unhappy with this arrangement is Abbas, who has been left behind. But this is his problem.”
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A Hamas-Israel ceasefire and the possible return of Dahlan are likely to be but the first steps in a UAE-Egyptian-Israeli-backed strategy to engineer the emergence of a Palestinian leadership more amenable to negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Whether Trump’s remark that Israel would have to pay a price for his recognition of Jerusalem was a shot from the hip or part of a broader strategy is hard to discern. The White House has since sought to roll back his remarks.
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With the jury still out, Israelis, Palestinians, and their regional allies have been put on alert as they maneuver to ensure their place in whatever emerges from efforts to reengineer the political landscape.